While The Mummy was a critical and commercial success back in 1999 when it was released, the sequel had a few issues that were seemingly its downfall. The film had potential, and loads of it, yet it was bogged down by a few critical problems that made it obsolete for the audience at that time.
The reason for this downfall wasn’t just because of the film itself, it was also because of a few other film releases that completely shifted the tone of the audiences towards more over-the-top action films. This resulted in a film that was somewhat misplaced, and yet it was still a decent watch at the end of the day.
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The Movie Review
This was a film more grandiose in scale, compared to the shorter and more concise story of the original. It began 3000 years ago during the Scorpion King’s reign of terror. However, it ended as all eras of tyranny do, and his army was exiled away into the desert of Ahm Shere.
The movie takes place a couple of years after the events of the original, Rick O’Connell and Evelyn are now a married couple, with a son named Alex. One day, while exploring ancient tombs, they find a bracelet, and not just any bracelet mind you, the Bracelet of Anubis. This results in a series of events that lead to the freedom of Imhotep, an evil Egyptian High Priest, The Scorpion King, and a surprising new entity that possesses divine power.
The film was yet again directed by Stephen Sommers, who writes the script himself and works his magic to keep the movie entertaining from the beginning to the end. However, the amount of content that this film possesses it’s a bit too much for its short runtime. This was a two-hour film, which contained at least two films worth of story.
This is the main reason why the film felt bloated and rushed for most people and the result for the mixed reviews. Many people expected this film to be a simple story just like the original film, but they found something more ambitious and something much more rushed than they expected it to be.
There was little to no room for character development due to how fast the film moved. Things kept happening from start to end, without any breathing room for the characters to interact between each other and further showcase their relationship.
The conflicts in the film are also very weird, as they don’t really have much to do with the main protagonists and rather just rely on them to stop it. In fact, if the characters were explored a bit more, there might be a bit more to it than meets the eye. The character of Rick O’Connell for example is one of the most prime examples of why the characters needed more exploration.
Brandon Fraser plays the character with such depth and charisma, yet his performance goes underutilized due to the severe lack of key character moments that would showcase his relationship more. Instead, the film opts to go from one moment to the next, keeping things quite entertaining for audiences yet leaving much more to be desired from the characters which people came to love.
The same can be said for Evelyn, whose use in this film is quite unnatural and a bit uninspired. Alex on the other hand, played by Freddie Boath is quite the character and actually very likable throughout the film.
The real standout here once again is the action and production design, though. This film had a much higher budget than the original, so Sommers really does his best to immerse you into his world through the detailed world-building and narrative-driven action scenes.
Imhotep is the highlight here though, as he moves the plot along further with every decision he makes and the film solely relies on him and actor Arnold Vosloo’s performance to keep the narrative running. I particularly love the color grading and cinematography done by cinematographer Adrian Biddle who puts his heart and soul into this project.
Ultimately though, The Mummy Returns is a much weaker sequel than most of us would have expected. It is a film that tries to do too much and try to be things it shouldn’t.
This isn’t The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, nor is it Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone or Planet of the Apes, all of those movies that were released in 2001 featured larger than life worlds and stories, yet they weren’t the crunchy, action-packed extravaganzas that this film could have become if the story was more focused on the characters rather than the events that the characters were simply breezing through.